One-time fees that are worth it?
June 14, 2021 1:39 PM   Subscribe

What have you paid a lifetime/one-time fee for that was worth it? (Previously, but now pretty old.)

(Besides your MeFi membership, obviously.)

Many things have the option to buy a lifetime membership or a one-time license fee. (For example, the Plex Media Server software for running a home theater has the Plex Pass for added features, and you can buy a Lifetime Pass as opposed to paying monthly.)

Or REI sells a lifetime membership that's totally awesome.

I am thinking more about "what unlocked the most features or delivered the greatest value" and less about "what did the most good in the world," but I would love to hear anything.
posted by wenestvedt to Work & Money (29 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Most features for $50 was a lifetime membership in the (Madison) Wisconsin Union, paid by my partner in 1977. Extended to me when we married.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:10 PM on June 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

$25 for an extended LibraryThing for life was totally worth it for the small museum I worked for once. It was the perfect solution for their one-room very specific lending collection. I would do it myself if I were the type to keep my personal books organized, or if I were again in a place needing book tracking/circ but not needing a full on ILS.
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

You might need to wait a bit depending on your age, but senior citizens can pay $80 for a lifetime national parks pass.
posted by coffeecat at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2021 [22 favorites]

I paid for a full license to Universalis, an iPhone app for praying the Office of Hours. You can access the same information online for free, however the paid version of the app puts all the texts onto the phone for offline use; there is also a substantial amount of additional content only available in the licensed version. So for me it was well worth a few bucks...YMMV.
posted by jquinby at 2:27 PM on June 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

The People's Memorial Co-op will drastically reduce funeral costs when the time comes. My father joined for $10 back in 1970. Membership cost is now $50. Here is the link for Washington State residents, but according to the website...

"Your membership is recognized by the national Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA). Most states have a local affiliate group similar to PMA. If you move, visit the FCA website to find a local group. That local group will honor your membership, though they may charge a $15 transfer fee."
posted by Arctostaphylos at 2:30 PM on June 14, 2021 [14 favorites] is an app I've supported for years, and it does everything from D&D ambience to white noise for sleep to great background music/sounds for focus in writing projects. It's done by one guy and worth way more than the one-time pay what you want donation he asks to access the premium features.
posted by The otter lady at 3:08 PM on June 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

We got a lifetime zoo membership to our local zoo. Now we can wander round whenever we feel like it, no pressure to make the entrance fee worth it, if we spend an hour looking at one animal and then go home that's fine. It also gets us one free entry per year at various other European zoos. We love it.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:32 PM on June 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

A lifetime membership to the National Trust costs about the same as a MacBook Pro but gets you infinite free entry and free parking (this is key) for stately homes and castles and their beautiful gardens throughout the UK.
posted by guessthis at 4:30 PM on June 14, 2021 [8 favorites]

Yeah for me it's mostly been Plex and Library Thing, already mentioned, and apps. is the main one, but I also inherited iBird Pro and it's very very good.
posted by jessamyn at 5:38 PM on June 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

MyNoise!!! Seconding MyNoise. The noises range from your typical white noie crackles, whale songs, and gentle rain to parakeets, dryers, random Moog, people muttering, a piano jazz generator, bells and gongs, and lawnmowers in the distance.

Plus you can mix them and mess with the mix so you can have like spacey electronic pings with a tiny bit of parakeets and just a touch of whales, or whatever. Very fun to play with and very helpful if you need white noise. I think I paid $15.
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:59 PM on June 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

I scored lifetime webhosting with SSDPage from StackSocial. I barely use it, but for those times I've cared it's great that it's there.

I also bought Connectify lifetime upgrades. I know I could probably do the same thing if I fiddled around with the built-in settings, but it's a great tool I use all the time.
posted by krisjohn at 5:59 PM on June 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

The single-share purchase ($5) to establish and maintain credit union membership.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:02 PM on June 14, 2021 [14 favorites]

If apps count, one I use a lot year after year without any recurring cost is a unique to-do app called Clear.
posted by Dansaman at 8:11 PM on June 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

We bought our kid a $200 lifetime state hunting /fishing license, which is available for kids age 3 and under in our state. My husband hunts and fishes and will buy the 65+ lifetime license when he’s eligible.
posted by farkleberry at 8:30 PM on June 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin TX has a one time $70 membership. $15 is a joining fee and $55 is a capital investment which will be refundable if you resign. I joined in 1982 and have saved beaucoup over the years. Co-ops in other areas have differing membership requirements.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:13 PM on June 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

In 2004 I paid $400 for a lifetime Sirius subscription.
posted by carmicha at 9:25 PM on June 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I paid $3.99 for a Mac extension called TextSniper. With one key combo, it allows you to select any text (even if it's not OCR'd or in an image) and it will copy the text to the clipboard as plain text. Very, very useful and time saving.
posted by Red Desk at 9:39 PM on June 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

A lifetime membership to the National Trust gets you infinite free entry and free parking (this is key) for stately homes and castles and their beautiful gardens throughout the UK.

And parking at their beaches, which are plentiful in some places. The main reason we get their annual membership.
posted by biffa at 11:35 PM on June 14, 2021

My Dad got a lifetime subscription to National Geographic in the early sixties. Everyone in the family read each one and then they got filed neatly in date order, rows and rows of them where they could be used for references. They were extremely useful for such things as getting an idea what urban Peru might look like, or the type of equipment used to dredge near a coral reef, not to mention a giraffe as seen from behind, etc. This was before the internet (in fact back when there were just two TV channels in black and white only) so your other options for finding images or factual information was the local library. There weren't good odds that they had something close to what you wanted. The local libraries did not keep collections of Nat Geog as they were subject to too much attrition from people swiping them or cutting them up, but the set at our house was complete and it never occurred to us to take a pair of scissors to them. We'd as soon used the scissors to try to cut a hole in the dining room table.

Of course there was a lot of stuff in the magazine that was problematic, even then. It was clearly Nationalistic and Colonialist. However the family is not American so we had an outsider vantage that made is easier to perceive these things, and they were pointed out to us from early on by our father who was staunchly anti-establishment, except unions.

After thirty years National Geographic started sending him tactfully worded requests to confirm that he was still alive. After forty years they gave up and just presumed he and the other lifetime subscribers were going to be immortal.

Imagine if he had gotten the subscription in the name of one of the kids. We'd still be getting them.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:07 AM on June 15, 2021 [24 favorites]

Not quite a fee, but the Briggs and Riley lifetime guarantee on their luggage is pretty great. I've replaced a wheel twice on a bag I bought over 10yrs ago and it was hassle free and free-free.

A lifetime service that's *not* worth it is the Tivo lifetime plan. I am pretty sure they do the planned obsolescence thing after like, two years.
posted by Grither at 5:22 AM on June 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I’ve got lifetime membership of the Prince Charles Cinema, which is a repertory movie theatre in London that shows a huge range of films, old and new, rare and blockbuster. £60 means good discounts on tickets and on food and drink. Since joining I’ve seen so many amazing films I’d never previously have considered, because it’s only a few quid and worth taking a risk on - and have massively increased my film knowledge. It’s also been a good antidote to half-watching Netflix while browsing my phone. Most of all, though, it feels like my special place just for me (not family, not friends), which isn’t something I’d really had before or expected, but which I value a lot.
posted by greycap at 6:05 AM on June 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

$5 lifetime bicycle pass on the Metro North commuter railway (NYC area).
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:19 AM on June 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Rosetta Stone's lifetime subscription to all languages, accessible online, is looking like an awfully good deal to me, considering it's less than I paid for a full set of Spanish a few years back.
posted by stormyteal at 3:29 PM on June 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Soma FM
I paid for lifetime Maps for my standalone Garmin GPS and while I don't use it now because I have a smart phone it was well worth it to get updates
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:31 PM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can't do it anymore but I snagged that sweet BMG Records Club deal where I got 2 free CDs a year for life until they begged me to stop and then finally folded.
posted by Mchelly at 6:57 AM on June 16, 2021 [5 favorites]

LibraryThing (I have two lifetime subs, one for books, one for comics)
And I second co-op/credit union memberships.
posted by CCBC at 2:14 PM on June 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm a lifetime Girl Scouts member. Financially it's going to take a long time to be worth it, but that wasn't my primary motivation.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:45 PM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

REI member for 50 years.
posted by Homer42 at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you're into GTD (Getting Things Done, David Allen) then you might be interested in a lifetime subscription to the Nirvana app which costs $49.
posted by MiraK at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2022

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